Social Media and The Business of Healthcare. A Double-Edged Sword.

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Blog Hero: King with Sword: Social Media, a Double-Edged Sword

Social Media and The Business of Healthcare. A Double-Edged Sword.

Perhaps.
Social media as a channel has been around for 40+ years. Consumer brands embraced social first, as a way to communicate with consumers and expand reach. When advertising on social media began, those same brands started pouring millions of dollars into filling newsfeeds with ads.

The business of healthcare was and is a little slower to adopt social media, and rightfully so. From privacy concerns to patient sentiment to public perception, it seemed at the beginning, a little like dipping your toe in a cool pool. Waiting for other healthcare organizations to take the risk and figure out which channels mattered, and which ones don’t, seemed like the right approach. Hospitals embraced Twitter as a way to communicate their experiences, both good and bad. Physicians began using Facebook as a channel to market their medical practice and connect with patients. Healthcare B2B companies established company profiles on LinkedIn to recruit professionals. The words “Like, follow, tag and stumble” took on new meanings. And so, did “trust.”

Double edged sword.
The transparency social media provides into every consumer action and reaction became both a blessing and a curse.

The most significant impact from a patient is the consumer perspective? Response time. More than 75% of consumers expect healthcare brands to respond in hours. Consumers expect replies in hours and if on Twitter, seconds. Today, patients ARE consumers. Social media information is now influencing decisions to seek care. Patients are rating their hospital experiences on Google + pages, and rating doctors on physician rating sites like www.vitals.com, www.healthgrades.com, www.rateMDs.com, and others. While hospitals and physicians focus on patient survey mechanisms, patients are establishing public sentiment on social channels, visible to all.

Double edged sword.
LinkedIn is a trusted recruiting channel. But is it also a viable lead generation tool?

Healthcare B2B companies face different sets of social media challenges. LinkedIn is the number one B2B content marketing channel and makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs. 79% of B2B healthcare marketers see LinkedIn as an effective lead generation source.

Double edged sword.
It’s no secret that Facebook collects data. Does that data violate patient privacy? What about HIPAA?

Facebooks recent data privacy scandals and the growing concern over privacy and protection create additional vulnerabilities for healthcare companies. The best way to avoid violations and to protect the company is to create a social media policy for both the company and the public at large.

Double edged sword.
The healthcare C-suite is listening to the social conversation. Why does that matter?

HIT companies utilize Twitter to elevate social initiatives, foster culture, and talent and distribute content for lead generation. Hospital CFOs turn to Twitter to monitor what’s being said about the patient financial experience. Chief Marketing Officers add Twitter conversations to their reputation monitoring and glean competitive intelligence from the volume of short conversations.

Social media, as a healthcare business channel, is no longer the exception. It’s the rule. Harnessing social media as part of the lead generation strategy and adding social to PR and thought leadership strategies provide an opportunity to stand out in a crowded marketplace. And more importantly, social media brings humanity, building trust and transparency in the business of healthcare.

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